At least two analysts out there believe that some of Colin Kaepernick’s troubles this season stem from the third-year San Francisco 49ers quarterback losing some of his confidence.
ESPN’s Merril Hoge, on “NFL Matchup,” took Kaepernick to task for looking like he’s hesitating when he should be throwing the ball to open receivers, according to Pro Football Talk.
Hoge suggested that Kaepernick is second-guessing himself, focusing on a play from last Sunday’s 10-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers when he was sacked by Panthers safety Mike Mitchell with an open receiver—tight end Vance McDonald—available.
“That is a completion,” Hoge said. “The ball should be out. A confident player makes that throw. Colin Kaepernick does not. He holds onto the ball. He’s uncertain. He’s unsure.”
Fellow analyst Ron Jaworski agreed with Hoge, with the caveat that he expects the young quarterback to improve as his receivers get healthy.
“His receivers, as I look at the tape, are not doing a good job getting open,” Jaworski observed. “They’re going to need to get Mario Manningham healthy and flying down the field and you’re going to need to get Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis back healthy.”
It’s worth pointing out that Jaworski had a very different opinion of Kaepernick back in August.
“Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever,” Jaworski said on an ESPN broadcast prior to the start of the regular season. “I love his skill set. He throws with accuracy. And in today’s NFL you have to have mobility. He’s got all those attributes.”
He’s a young quarterback experiencing some growing pains. And on Sunday, he was throwing to Manningham for the first time since last season, he was without his top two tight ends in Davis and Garrett Celek and he was facing a ferocious pass rush.
Hard for any quarterback to look confident in the face of all that.